President Kenyatta pays a visit to Vasco da Gama's tomb

Vasco da Gama arrived in Kenya, 600 years ago in his quest to find a sea route to India.

President Uhuru Kenyatta pays a visit to Vasco da Gama's tomb in Lisbon, Portugal (Photo by PSCU)

As part of his State Visit to the Republic of Portugal, President Uhuru Kenyatta has paid a visit to the Jerónimos Monastery where renowned Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama has been laid to rest.

Vasco da Gama has a special relationship with Kenya as history indicates he visited the country about 600 years ago. The Vasco da Gama pillar in Malindi is perhaps the most prominent physical reminder of the Portuguese influence in the East African country.

The pillar which was constructed along the Coast was strategically placed as a sea route to traders to and from the East Coast of Africa.

During his visit to the site on Tuesday, June 28, President Kenyatta toured extensively the imposing masterpiece of the 16th century Portuguese architecture. Aside from Vasco da Gama, legendary poet Luís de Camões was also interred in the same Monastery.

The President who was in good spirits, then proceeded to take a short drive, escorted by a ceremonial cavalry of horse riders, to the nearby Belém Palace, the official residence of the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

President Sousa had earlier welcomed his counterpart at the iconic Monastery in central Lisbon followed by an elaborate military ceremony that included a Guard of Honour and a Gun Salute by the Forças Armada (The Portuguese Armed Forces).

The visit to the Monastery comes a day after President Kenyatta on Monday, June 27 became the first Kenyan head of state to visit Portugal where he co-chaired the second United Nations Ocean Conference.

Kenya and Portugal were declared hosts for the conference after the 2017 inaugural UN Ocean Conference co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden in New York. The conference was initially scheduled to take place in 2020 but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is aimed at accelerating the adoption of science-based innovative solutions to challenges facing oceans and the global marine ecosystem. “Kenya registered its intention that blue economy must be part and parcel of our livelihoods. We must protect our marine life, marine security is important to Kenya," Kenyan Ambassador to Portugal Judy Wakhungu said.

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